Snake Oil

I had the good fortune to hear Richard Heinberg when he was in Toronto recently and gave a talk at U. of T. Heinberg is an expert on peak oil and the author of several well-known books. In his talk, titled "Snake Oil: How the petroleum industry's false promise of plenty imperils our future" (also the title of his upcoming book), he challenged industry's claims about fracking and America's potential to become energy independent. He told us that the promises that fracking will continue providing huge amounts of energy well into the future are very misleading; for tight oil and shale gas, the rate of decline is rapid. He also pointed out the downsides of fracking: risk of groundwater contamination, massive water consumption for each well drilled, need to dispose of toxic fracking fluids, and the astounding fact that full-cycle GHG emissions are actually worse than for coal. For more information go to and